COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Hitting Roadblocks

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The rollout of the new COVID-19 vaccine has been difficult, with reports of insured people having to pay up to $200 for the shot, which gained FDA approval last week.

All those with private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid should be able to receive the vaccine for free; however, this is not always the case, according to reports and social media complaints.

CBS News reported Tuesday that the vaccines have new billing codes and health insurers have yet to update their plans to cover the shots, leading to charges for those attempting to get vaccinated this first week. Health insurance providers Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Kaiser Permanente all stated they will cover the new COVID-19 shots as routine vaccines.

On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra received his COVID-19 booster at a Washington, D.C., CVS Pharmacy to encourage others to get theirs and promote the availability of the shots at pharmacies.

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Sec. Becerra addressed the reports of insured people having to pay out-of-pocket for the shots, saying any claims of insurance companies not covering them are “not correct.” He also urged customers with health insurance to check with their pharmacists to clear up any confusion.

The Biden administration’s Bridge Access Program will distribute vaccines for the uninsured through community health centers, local health departments, and pharmacies. However, community health centers and local health departments are having to adapt to this new phase of COVID-19 response, since they no longer have the funds from the federal government that they had earlier.

NACCHO CEO Lori Freeman pointed out that the 6 million available vaccines are not enough to cover the 25 million uninsured people in the U.S. Becerra said the CDC will pay a similar price per vaccine dose as it did previously.

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